If you routinely use rollers, knob-like devices, T-bars or some other tool on your clients, you might wonder if they are also appropriate to use when one of your regulars becomes pregnant. The answer is a resounding yes, as long as you observe some basic precautions.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, between 50 and 70 percent of all pregnant women experience back pain. Others present with aching legs, tired feet, tight shoulders and generalized fatigue. While hands-on massage can help relieve some of these ills, the tools you have on the shelf might make the job easier on you and more effective for your client.

Renee Gladieux Principe, LMT, NCTMB, director of sales at The Pressure Positive Company, indicates that tools can be a better option to over-the-counter medications when it comes to treating muscle tension in pregnant women. You can effectively address a variety of problems with assorted tools that adapt to the changing curves of your pregnant client and also allow you to modify pressure as needed. “For therapists, the Knobble and Indexknobbers are tools of choice for treating tension and trigger points along the cervical and T-spine, forearms, hands and feet. Rolling tools like the Tiger Tail are great for the legs and hips,” reports Principe.

Moreover, the therapist can derive benefits as well. “The benefits for the therapist are the same as those when used on a typical client, that with tools they can relieve some of the wear and tear on their wrists, fingers and thumbs while treating trigger points and myofascial adhesions,” she says. “Tools expand the therapist’s treatment options, perhaps a roller with the ability to be heated or cooled or a soft or shaped roller to distribute/diffuse pressure over a wider area.”

Principe cautions though that tools designed for deep compression work should not be used on certain areas of a pregnant client. “For instance, the common pregnancy symptoms of varicose veins, swelling or edema are all contraindicated for deep tissue massage and one wouldn’t want to treat those areas with tools.”

The market features tools made of wood, marble, ebonite and other composite materials and any one may be suitable for your client, but your main goal should be her safety. “In a clinical setting, your choice [of tool] should be driven by sanitary concerns for the client. The tools you use should be cleaned thoroughly after each use and sanitized before their next use. Some tools hold up to repeated cleanings better than others,” she notes.

Finally, you should observe the usual precautions for pregnant clients before pulling any device out of the drawer. “Make sure your client has no allergies or aversions to any of the tools you might want to use,” Principe says, citing the possibility of chemical sensitivities, latex allergies or other contraindications. “Most obviously, ask your client at the beginning of your session if you may use tools on her. She may just want to feel the warmth of your hands.”